Red Dawn on Blu-ray: a action/adventure metaphor for the state of the Union
By Jim Bray
The remake of the 1984 flick Red Dawn is a flawed movie and Blu-ray, but a must see nonetheless if you'd like an opportunity to feel good about the United States of America again.
It's also a terrific analogy for what's happening in the U.S. today, with the Obama regime and other internal forces trying to bring the U.S. to its knees in order to rebuild it in their own image. In Red Dawn, those forces – at so far as what we get to see on the screen – are external – from North Korea, with off screen collaboration from the Russians, but the metaphor is apt.
Okay, there are clichés and lapses in logic aplenty in this remake, but overall I very nearly found myself leaping from my seat, cheering the actions of the plucky youngsters who stand up to be counted, fighting for the home of the brave while many of their countrymen either knuckle under or collaborate actively with the enemy.
I remember the original film hardly at all, so can't really compare them. This version, however – warts and all – will stay with me, and if you love and/or respect the United States and are appalled at what's happening there, you owe it to yourself to check out this movie. You should also sit down any of your "low information" acquaintances who may not have seen through the screen of razzle dazzle that has descended over the land of the free and let them watch this movie. Who knows? Maybe it'll help.
The film opens with a short geopolitical montage that sets the scene reasonably accurately, putting the U.S. and the rest of the world's situation into perspective. From there, we're whisked to the great city of Spokane, Washington, where Marine Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) has come home on leave just in time for the pacific northwest to be invaded in no uncertain terms (thanks to digital effects!) by those pesky Norks.
So, quicker'n you can say "Dear Leader" the area is under North Korean control, with camps set up, people being shot – the stuff you'd expect to happen in a communist state but never in the United States. Until now.
Jed, his footballer brother Matt (Josh Peck) and some of their little friends manage to escape being captured and processed, hiding out in the countryside. It's a good thing Jed's there; a natural leader, he organizes them into a small commando unit that takes the fight to the enemy, by stealth, by theft, by whatever means possible, becoming a real thorn in the side of the occupying forces and thereby putting a price on their heads that ensures they keep their heads down as they wreak havoc on the communist government as it tries to wrap its tentacles around America.
It's a major adjustment for the kids, not just because they're suddenly on the run but because they're thrust into a totally new and dangerous situation. As one of the characters says, "we're living Call of Duty. And it sucks."
The video game reference is a good one, as these modern, cosseted kids find themselves pulled suddenly and violently out of a comfortable existence in which their biggest worry was that Matt's a prima donna and not a team player (a fact that will bite the plucky commandos in the butt later in the film, not that you can't see it coming!). Suddenly, they're fighting for the lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor.
I couldn't help but keep the enemy from without/within metaphor in my mind while watching the film, and that's what made it work for me even more than the action itself, which is mostly pretty cool in its own right. I have no idea if that was on the filmmakers' mind when they put the remake together, but it sure came through in spades in my home theater.
Another thing that may work in the movie's favor is the fact that, at a mere 94 minutes including the closing credits, it doesn't have time to really get bogged down, nor does it have time to beat you over the head with politics or anything else. Instead, we watch this group of kids who, other than their leader Jed, have no clue what they're doing (though they learn quickly!), forced not only to grow up literally over night, but to also take a political stand that undoubtedly goes against much (if not all) that they were taught in their left-wing indoctrinating classrooms.
Indeed, iIt's a story of ordinary Americans rising up and doing extraordinary things – fighting overpowering odds to do the right thing regardless of the consequences. It's the stuff on which America was built, though so many people seem to have turned blind eyes to it in recent years.
There's enough good stuff here to make it possible (even if marginally) to ignore such inconvenient truths as North Korea probably not having the wherewithal to mount such an invasion (and if they could, wouldn't they invade South Korea first – or just nuke American cities via missile?), the kids being able (often) to move around and hide out with near impunity despite all the military forces arrayed against them. There are more plot holes and things like that – probably too many to mention in a quick review – but the overall feel of the film is of hope and pride and humanity. And of rising to the challenge even though it could very possibly get you killed.
I've read some reviews that pillory the film, including the choice to bring in a Marine as leader instead of them just being a bunch of kids who do all this stuff on their own. I actually liked having an "adult figure" on hand, though (and Hemsworth does a fine job here), since I have a feeling that, considering how today's youth are being dumbed down and indoctrinated, it might take such a figure to make men and women out of these boys and girls. So it added a bit of realism as far as I'm concerned.
The Blu-ray itself is okay, but hardly reference quality. The picture, presented of course in 1080p/24 at an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, is very good but I thought it a tad soft, though detail and colors come through nicely.
The audio is better. It's presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and it does, indeed, have the kind of great "punch" you want when there's all kinds of military ordnance going off all over the place. All channels are used well, including the all-important (for movies with lots of explosions) low frequency effects channel.
Extras? Apparently, Alliance Atlantis doesn't think you need any stinkin' extras, not even a trailer. You do get a DVD version, but that's hardly a supplement – it's more a way for DVD player owners to enjoy the film now without being forced to replace it with a Blu-ray later. As such, it's a good addition, but it's hardly what BD fans are looking for to sweeten the deal.
Red Dawn appears to have disappeared quickly from theaters upon its release in 2012, and that's too bad. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's an important film, but it's certainly a breath of fresh air at a time when Americans' freedoms are being taken away from right under their noses by enemies who are hollowing out the country from inside while complicit media and elite classes egg them on.
Looking at it that way, I'm surprised that Red Dawn got remade at all, let alone released to the public.
Copyright 2013 Jim Bray
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.